Ramen Iroha Pop-Up at Gardena Marukai

24 Aug

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Iroha is a pop-up stand at the food court at the flagship Marukai supermarket in Gardena. The eye catching claim is that they won a Tokyo ramen competition the last three years. That’s an easy claim to make when your customer (me) has no idea: 1) if this competition is legit, 2) if this ramen is the same as what is served in the Tokyo restaurants, and 3) if this claim isn’t an outright lie. With this basis in a complete lack of fact, I had to engage in this post-modern exercise in testing truth.

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I got the black soy broth ramen at the recommendation of the clerk (having no other facts to inform my decision). It was served in this beautiful porcelain bowl, counterpointed ironically unironically by being served on the same plastic trays as every other stand. Disposable chopsticks in hand, I dug in.

What hits you first is the heavy salt. It makes it an intense experience, which at some level is good because it does not have the intense flavor of a tonkatsu broth. But at the result level at which us mortals reside this ramen is just too darn salty.

Other than that, it’s pretty good. Which is a bit like saying your date is really attractive, except for her face. And personality.

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The egg is well-cooked, golden and gooey inside. The noodles are a bit thick, with a nice springy texture. It’s rounded out with chopped scallions, sautéed mushrooms, and a salty slice of seaweed (which would be nice except for the last couple paragraphs).

Maybe this review is unfair. I really like tonkatsu ramen. Anything else calling itself ramen feels like something else entirely (I’m looking at you, Santouka). So maybe I’m still reeling from the greatest ramen in the world. And it’s like comparing a steak to chicken nuggets — of course one tastes beefier than the other.

But geez, did they really have to let loose with so much salt?

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